Joel & Ethan Coen whitesplained diversity: ‘The question you’re asking is idiotic’


I unapologetically love the Coen Brothers’ films, but after reading this Daily Beast interview with them… I might not love them as people. The Daily Beast asked Joel and Ethan Coen about diversity in Hollywood, #OscarsSoWhite, and about the “pervasive whiteness” that surrounds their own films. They’re promoting Hail Caesar, a film set in Hollywood’s Golden Age, and a film in which every major role except one is filled by white actors. If the Coens came at this conversation with an acknowledgement of the limitations of their white-male perspective, that would be one thing. But they do not. They seem to shrug off the entirity of the #OscarsSoWhite conversation, then manslain/whitesplain why they could never write a script full of racially diverse characters. You can read the full piece here. Some highlights (it’s mostly Joel speaking, but Ethan seems to agree with Joel’s perspective):

Joel Coen on #OscarSoWhite: “It’s assigning way too much importance to the awards. By making such a big deal, you’re assuming that these things really matter. I don’t think they even matter much from an economic point of view. So yes, it’s true—and it’s also true that it’s escalating the whole subject to a level it doesn’t actually deserve. Diversity’s important. The Oscars are not that important.”

Joel on why there isn’t more diversity in their films: “Why would there be? I don’t understand the question. No—I understand that you’re asking the question, I don’t understand where the question comes from. Not why people want more diversity—why they would single out a particular movie and say, ‘Why aren’t there black or Chinese or Martians in this movie? What’s going on?’ That’s the question I don’t understand. The person who asks that question has to come in the room and explain it to me.”

Ethan on why being conscious of diversity is not important: “Not in the least! It’s important to tell the story you’re telling in the right way, which might involve black people or people of whatever heritage or ethnicity—or it might not.”

Joel on how stories are written: “It’s an absolute, absurd misunderstanding of how things get made to single out any particular story and say, ‘Why aren’t there this, that, or the other thing?’ It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of how stories are written. So you have to start there and say, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ You don’t sit down and write a story and say, ‘I’m going to write a story that involves four black people, three Jews, and a dog,’—right? That’s not how stories get written. If you don’t understand that, you don’t understand anything about how stories get written and you don’t realize that the question you’re asking is idiotic. It’s not an illegitimate thing to say there should be more diversity in an industry. But that’s not what that question is about. That question is about something else.”

[From The Daily Beast]

This is why the #OscarsSoWhite conversation is important. This is why it’s a great idea to ask popular, mainstream, beloved, white male writer/directors about diversity. Because we get a glimpse of how non-white actors get zero Oscar nominations. We get a glimpse of how The White Man decides what stories are valid and why diversity gets pushed aside. “Why aren’t there black or Chinese or Martians in this movie? What’s going on?” Do you see what he’s saying there? It’s as absurd to him that people would want to see Martians in a movie as the idea that people might want to see black people or Asian people in a movie. He’s equating those three groups.

As for this: “You don’t sit down and write a story and say, ‘I’m going to write a story that involves four black people, three Jews, and a dog,’—right? That’s not how stories get written.” Correction: that’s not how YOU write stories. It’s just like what George Clooney was saying – how could he cast an actor of color to play Edward R. Murrow? That’s not the issue – the issue is “who determines what stories get to be told?” Who writes those stories? Who gets cast in those films? Who greenlights and finances the films with the all-white casts?


Photos courtesy of WENN, Fame/Flynet.

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271 Responses to “Joel & Ethan Coen whitesplained diversity: ‘The question you’re asking is idiotic’”

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  1. lisa2 says:

    Wow.. this whole conversation is the gift that keeps on giving. It has shinned a light on a lot of people. Disappointing but not unexpected.. And this quote:
    ‘I’m going to write a story that involves four black people, three Jews, and a dog,’—right?

    WTF is wrong with these people. NO one is asking or suggesting a Quota system. Just asking that we look at roles in movies with a more open and diverse eye. In many movies it doesn’t matter what the character’s Race is. A good story could be played by anyone. That is the point. That the ANYONEs don’t always have to be white. The story could and does in the real world apply to any race. So why not show that in your casting.

    Damn.. more idiot thinking comes to light.

    • ToxicShockAvenger says:

      ^^^ This, exactly. We (collectively) have to get past the idea that casting a black/Asian/Latino/female/trans/etc person in a role is some sort of good deed, political statement, or sacrifice for diversity…. and not just a reflection of reality. Honestly, if you look around and all you see is straight white males, consider for a minute that it’s YOUR world that’s insular and weird.

      • Scal says:

        THIS. No one is saying oh write a story about 3 black people a Jew and a dog-the fact that the Cohen brothers can’t just see a poc as a regular character without anything ‘ethnic’ about them is the problem. As if a black character speaks jive and you have to write them that way.

        They write their characters as white in their minds, and never think to look at them in a different way. All you have to do is switch out a character for a poc and it works. Write as normal-and then do blind casting. Hell-half the cast of burn after reading could have been blind cast and it would have been fine.

      • joan says:

        What no one is mentioning is that the Coens are Jewish. That’s another minority.

        I loved the Coens’ “A Serious Man” [unless my shiksa self totally misunderstood it] but I think they’re too “cool” to want to talk about being Jewish in relation to the Diversity Issue.

        It’s true that Hollywood has a lot of Jewish executives making decisions, and the Oscars do love it some Holocaust movies.

        But I don’t notice many [American] films dealing with Jews in regular life, just very serious foreign art films.

        Anyway, I don’t like the way their comments come off but one did say “diversity is important” so I think they just haven’t expressed themselves very well.

        They grew up in a Mpls. suburb with a population that’s more liberal, sophisticated, and Jewish than most Mpls. suburbs. So these comments are atypical and maybe not well thought out.

      • sunny says:

        @ToxicShockAvenger Preach. Everything you said is so totally right.

      • India Rose says:

        I live right near there, Joan, and I get what you’re saying. I have always loved the Coens, but this interview is so disappointing. One problem with this idea of “storytelling” is that old stories and historic stories can be modernized to reflect present culture. The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis had an amazing production of Romeo and Juliet set in the midst of a broken-down skyscraper and featured a diverse cast, connecting past and present in really inventive ways. And what’s the biggest thing on Broadway right now? HAMILTON. Retelling the biography of the U.S. Secretary of Treasury, told through hip-hop music, with leads who are Puerto Rican, Latino and African-American. It draws parallels between first generation Americans then and now. Brilliant, imaginative, game-changing storytelling. After Hamilton, saying “white” characters have to be played by white actors is just lazy thinking. The U.S. demographics are changing and art will change with them.

      • Otaku fairy says:

        Exactly. Unless race is somehow essential to the chraracter’s story, a person of any race can play that character. It doesn’t require any real change of the story.

    • Aarika says:

      + 1. The default seem to always cast a white person in a story when race is not a defining factor. And that’s what people are fighting against. Why oh why don’t they get that?

      • noway says:

        YES! Sure we need more movies produced that have more diversity, and I would challenge the Coen brothers and say plenty are being written just not produced. Still I don’t understand two things, one as you said when race isn’t a factor the actor is always white. Why can’t that be changed. Second, I challenge even Clooney, who seems to get it more, why can’t Edward Murrow be a black actor or hispanic, etc. Yes it would be more challenging, but to dismiss it entirely because the actor doesn’t look the part shows they don’t understand their own white privilege. Keep in mind other races have had to watch for decades whites playing people of their race and they seem to still watch the movies. Also, it shows little respect for the craft of acting that the color of your skin could prohibit you from believing in the character. The good thing is these are all older Hollywood guys in their 50’s as with the play Hamilton, the director who also directed Grease Live on tv he changed up the color that show too a bit, and he is in his 30’s maybe with the new generation things will change.

      • Alicia says:

        “Second, I challenge even Clooney, who seems to get it more, why can’t Edward Murrow be a black actor or hispanic, etc. Yes it would be more challenging, but to dismiss it entirely because the actor doesn’t look the part shows they don’t understand their own white privilege.”

        A black Edward R. Murrow? Why? What would be the purpose? I’m sure Clooney didn’t even consider Ryan Gosling to play the role of Murrow because he was just way too young for the role. Is that “privilege” or is it just exercising common sense? If Don Cheadle had played Murrow, the entire message of the film would have been undermined because everyone would have been focusing on the bizarre casting choice.

      • Jess says:

        Aarika, great way of framing the problem!

      • joan says:

        The obvious question here then is:

        Is it OK for a white person to play a black person?

        We just had a controversy over Joseph Fienes playing Michael Jackson.

        Is it OK for whites to play random, non-famous black people?

        I think anyone can play anything but if it’s distracting or done poorly it won’t work.

        And making rules about art can backfire.

      • Bridget says:

        No, a black person didn’t need to play Edward R Murrow because he was indeed a white public figure. But what about the leads for Ides of March? Leatherheads? The Men Who Stare At Goats? Monuments Men?

      • noway says:

        Correct a black person doesn’t NEED to play Murrow to help improve the diversity, but my point was don’t dismiss any actor based purely on color. In Shakespeare’s day people played different sexes it isn’t that odd of a thought. Look at it from the other point, should Michael Jackson be portrayed by a white actor among others roles. Last time I looked George Washington was a white public figure that I would say more people know what he looks like than Edward R. Murrow, and a black actor portrays him the play Hamilton on Broadway. A historic figure is much harder to change, but my point was don’t dismiss it entirely. Yes I agree with today’s issues on this it would certainly gain weird attention, but from an artistic point of view it shouldn’t make a difference if the actor is good. Still there were many other characters where their race was not defined in many of his movies, maybe in those more POC could be cast.

    • Esmom says:

      Yes, and I don’t understand what’s so hard to grasp about this. Even my pre-schoolers get it when we act out stories and rhymes — that any child, regardless of race or ethnicity or gender, can play any character. It’s fun to rotate people around anyway, and not do the “expected,” like have the blonde girl play the princess. She can easily be the knight. Grr…

    • Coco says:

      WTF do these people not understand? No issues turning characters for minorities (Aloha anyone?) in to more roles for white people but it’s unthinkable to go the opposite direction? I’m so glad #OscarsSoWhite keeps gaining momentum. As a white lady of privilege, I want to see more diversity, more of everything and I’m glad privileged white people keep making fools of themselves so everyone can see how bad it is. It boggles my mind when people say “bootstraps, bootstraps, work hard, etc” when the game is systematically set up to hold minorities back.

      • noway says:

        I’m with so with you on this, and as a white woman of privilege I just want to see something different. Tired of the blond princess and the white male hero change it up a bit and give some really good actors a better chance to shine regardless of color. I look at some white young actors and actresses and Hollywood tries so hard to make them happen, and you have some amazing actors of color not given half a chance. For such a liberal open minded industry they seem awfully closed minded to me sometimes.

      • nn says:

        The only thing they are “Liberal” about is white gay males.
        People think Hollywood has issues with gay people but that’s not why they don’t make more movies about gay or lgbt people, it’s because the public, in other words, US and because WE don’t want gay people in movies. Otherwise they would’ve love to have gay charaters, out actors, films about gay people etc.
        Heck, they still at least TRY to bring more gay characters in movies and if not they love the homoerotic sort of wink and nudge ala craig’s bond with javier bardem.
        I mean, we can even look to America as a whole to see that. Time and time again people voted NO to gay marriage but then the president decided YES even though most people didn’t want it as we could see with the voting.
        It’s interesting to observe. Wasn’t it Travolta who said Hollywood is run by the gay mafia? There you go.

      • Lilacflowers says:

        @NN, actually, it was the Supreme Court of the United States who ruled in favor of marriage equality, not the President. It is court ordered, not executive ordered and not legislated.

    • lana86 says:

      these guys may be assholes, but they are not obliged to get everyone’s approval. They do what they like, they are good at it, and it sells. It’s not forbidden to make brilliant stories with diverse characters and diverse actors, is it? So, whoever wants to do it, and has money, can do it. It’s not Cohens’ responsibility that no one does, they are not fairy godmothers. Hollywood is not a state funded organisation, no one is obliged to give opportunities to anyone on whatever basis. It’s a frigging commercial machine. You do what u think u can sell.

      • justme says:

        This!! +++++

      • Mudflaps says:


      • Marny says:


      • Lilacflowers says:

        Workplaces, and a movie studio is a workplace, are subject to employment laws.

      • Breakfast Margaritas says:

        Hopefully they’ve exposed themselves and increasingly diverse global audiences will no longer accept what the “brilliant” Cohen bros dish out. The best thing that could happen would be for their movies to start flopping in Asian and Latin countries.

      • sunshine gold says:

        Agreed. Hollywood is run by white men and it’s about power, money and connections. A LOT of people are left out of this equation (women, minorities, moms, etc). It’s not right, but it is just the way the business is. There are other businesses like this too – tech, investment banking, law. The world is unfair.

      • Madge says:

        There was a reason Denzel Washington was getting $20 million a picture in his prime and Eddie Murphy was a big earner too – at his peak Eddie was everywhere in Hollywood in every comedy they made. Both actors sold. And neither played the race card or tried to say black actors aren’t getting enough parts blah blah blah. When I see Denzel’s name on the credits you know he’s worth the money and I’m heading out to the theatre. Do you remember him in Training Day – awesome!! I note that he is staying right out of this debate and don’t think for a minute he hasn’t been asked to comment. He earnt his way and he earnt his Oscar. Why should some other black actors be demanding a free ride or for the Oscars to become the Affirmative Action Awards? Acting talent shines through e.g. Idris Elbra. But let’s be clear – very few actors have that level of talent of any race. Why should a bunch of so so actors get parts in movies solely because of their race?

    • pf says:

      But the Coen Brothers did this when they cast Oscar Isaac in the lead role in Llewyn Davis. He’s Hispanic playing a character who was Welsh/Jewish (if I remember correctly). So they picked the right actor no matter his ethnic/racial background. Isn’t that what we what?

      • CLINIQUA says:

        Yes it is @pf, so the Coen bros have done this at least once, yet even they don’t seem to get it’s not that difficult.

        Unless they didn’t know Oscar’s background and assumed he was Jewish. Which I did when I saw his name.

      • Breakfast Margaritas says:

        That actor has dropped his Hispanic surname to continue playing white and avoid being seen as The Latino Actor. He is posing as a white actor.

      • Ennie says:

        +1 Margaritas.
        I think people many times write about what they know, love and like, relate, inspires them, etc.
        The problem is not the Coens. They are not the only writers is HW.
        Who writes scripts besides the Coens? I have no idea about the tastes or ethnicity of HW writers, but it would be interesting to know, for example, how many Hispanics are script writers and how many of those are actually getting their scripts green lighted, and how many of those scripts are about hispanics or have characters that can be played by hispanics?
        The stories are one thing, but remember that writers are not the only ones making the whole movie. They are not the producers, or casting directors.
        Some writers are more powerful than others, but not many are so powerful that they can choose the leads or the ethnicity of the actors.
        The business needs to change as a whole, including the people who pay for the tickets. Which was first? the chicken or the egg?
        What needs to change first? people’s tastes in movies all over the world or what it is offered in form of movies, etc?

    • Madge says:

      I think everyone is sick of the Oscars so white debate. I personally think that people should only be nominated on merit and not on the colour of their skin. I would only want an award I really earned or deserved, not one given to me because I’m a woman and they were desperate to nominate a female. No thanks.

      Also they can’t start stacking movies full of minorities just for the sake of it you have to earn your way into the picture. Just like people like Denzel and Morgan Freeman did. They started out with small parts and then their pure talent shone through and their parts got bigger and bigger and everyone wants them.

      Johnny Depp has strong Cherokee Indian heritage which is where he gets his looks from. He never made a show of it, played the race card or tried to say “Hire me because I’m part Indian and I’m a minority”. He became a star because he had star appeal and talent.

      • Original T.C. says:

        “I think everyone is sick of the Oscars so white debate. I personally think that people should only be nominated on merit and not on the colour of their skin. ”

        Since all the #Oscarsso white posts are the most commented on I’m not sure who are the “everyone” so sick of it you are referring to. But I’m sure most of these White actors, directors, and academy voters are sick of having to discuss any race outside of their happy White bubble. People with power do not like having their worldview challenged.

        Also who are the people asking for those without merit to win Oscars just because of the color of their skin? Because that is actually the reverse of what we are asking for. Currently the problem is that minorities that are worthy of nominations are being left out BECAUSE of the color of their skin while a long list of White actors receive nominations BECAUSE they are White and look like the people voting for them.

        Many people being nominated for Oscars are because they are the “right skin color” and loved or their studios spent a lot of money “campaigning” for them and kissing the butts of voters. But of course when it comes to Blacks, Hispanis, Asians, LGBT people it is them “wanting a free ride” or requiring them to be 3x better than the average White Oscar nominee. That my friend is classic racism.

    • Madge says:

      There was a reason Denzel Washington was getting $20 million a picture in his prime and Eddie Murphy was a big earner too – at his peak Eddie was everywhere in Hollywood in every comedy they made. Both actors sold. And neither played the race card or tried to say black actors aren’t getting enough parts blah blah blah. When I see Denzel’s name on the credits you know he’s worth the money and I’m heading out to the theatre. Do you remember him in Training Day – awesome!! I note that he is staying right out of this debate and don’t think for a minute he hasn’t been asked to comment. He earnt his way and he earnt his Oscar. Why should some other black actors be demanding a free ride or for the Oscars to become the Affirmative Action Awards? Acting talent shines through e.g. Idris Elbra. But let’s be clear – very few actors have that level of talent of any race. Why should a bunch of so so actors get parts in movies solely because of their race?

    • ol cranky says:

      I don’t understand their reply at all. Unless the race (or sex) of a character truly and specifically matters as part of the story line the character should not have to be played by a white actor.

  2. kai says:

    Yeah, I stopped reading at the ‘Martians’-bit. Wow.

  3. The Eternal Side-Eye says:

    …that is some Grade A White Mansplaining right there.

    What’s funny to me is the people who say, “Why does it matter? Oscars aren’t important.”

    It matters because in a just society there would not be ANY avenue where a person of any race, religion, or gender could not feel their talents would be equally given platform and respect. The fact that people don’t GET that – as its clear the Coen Brothers don’t “Uh, we don’t write movies for blacks or Martians. Get over it.” is WHY people are so angry and are fighting.

    I’ll be damned if I spend a dime to give to someone who equates me to something that doesn’t need to exist in their films like an alien.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      So well said. The argument that, well, the Oscars aren’t that important anyway just blows me away. So we can discriminate however much we want at unimportant things? So, if the Oscars were really important, people would be embracing diversity? Just how does that even come out of your mouth?

      And the dogs and alien thing is just repulsive.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        Exactly. Apparently ‘little’ things (although how we define one of the major acting recognition awards ceremonies as little is puzzling) should be allowed to be discriminatory. Which….helps us how?

    • Birdix says:

      It’s shocking how confidently they explain their viewpoint that diversity, while vaguely concerning, is essentially other people’s concern, because their “artistic process” trumps all else.
      You get the feeling that the interviewer knew he/she was getting a great story and let them pompously blowhard/mansplain/whitesplain until they barfed out all their condescending ideas.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        I like to imagine that the interviewer sat there for a few seconds jaw dropped before furiously writing down every single word trying desperately to hide their excitement. Because this? This is an amazing interview in terms of getting an expose into a major directing team’s view point.

        I mean Jesus Christ they lumped dogs into the equation, what the hell.

      • Esmom says:

        Side-Eye, yes, lumping dogs in reminded me of the extremists who scream about what marriage equality will lead to. UGH.

        And, yes, what an experience for the interviewer. Wow.

      • Marny says:

        I think it sounded very offensive but I don’t think that’s how they meant it. I think that as writers, they are arguing that people are treating these characters they write in a very arbitrary way like, “why not get a martian to play the role?” when, in fact, white people (in most cases) have a different experience in this world than black people who have a different experience (imc) than chinese people, etc. etc. I think he takes his job seriously enough that, in order for his characters to be authentic, he feels like race would be an important element of their story that he would have to have in mind as he’s writing it.

      • Breakfast Margaritas says:

        But blacks and chinese and Hispanics are part of the movie going audience. These ticket buyers aren’t purchasing a white experience. They’re buying entertainment. The Cohen brothers are evidently Jewish guys hung up on selling the imagery of a white experience to multi ethnic audiences around the globe. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being white or writing from a white perspective but understand your global ticket buying audience may want to relate to the characters too.

      • Bridget says:

        What’s killing me is the utter incredulity they’re expressing at the very idea of diversity in their work. It isn’t just the stories that they choose to tell, but the narrowness of the way they cast those stories. Would it have *really* have changed the story if they’d opened up the casting of their movies just a little bit? Would it have ruined No Country For Old Men if they’d cast a black actor in the Josh Brolin role?

    • HH says:

      What I need is for people to stop acting like the Oscars aren’t important. I need people to stop acting like an Oscar doesn’t open doors. I need people to stop acting like an Oscar doesn’t come with a pay increase.I need people to stop acting like there aren’t campaigns to win Oscars. I need people to stop acting like the entire industry doesn’t pay attention to the Oscars. I need people to stop acting like the entire industry doesn’t show up to the Oscars when invited.

      ETA: I’m speaking from a U.S. perspective., just to make that known. 🙂

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        This. Now that it’s a national topic of discussion and there’s calls for a system to change suddenly we’re supposed to believe that the Oscars are unimportant when any other time they beat us over the head with how special and coveted they are.

      • Alarmjaguar says:


    • Tonka says:

      Seriously. I found their comments far more problematic than Rampling’s. Rampling is an out of touch, elitist actress with very little power or reach, the same cannot be true of the Cohen brothers. They have the power to tell stories and have made it abundantly clear the stories of POC are not of any interest to them. Forget honoring them, the Cohens have no interest in supporting the genesis of their stories. That’s brutal. To dismiss their stories and equate them with dogs and Martians was disgusting.

      • analee says:

        That equation between blacks, Jews, and dogs (certain beaches and clubs and restaurants used to have signs openly excluding those exact 3 groups, pre Civil Rights, and even beyond) is an appalling statement. I also think, since the Cohen brothers are Jews themselves, that they did not mean it as insultingly as it sounded. (Not that it makes it any more excusable.) I think they were trying to speak out against a quota system being demanded of their film/writing, and, in a way, such a system *is* absurd: it brings restrictions and rules to art, which is not supposed to be about laws and restrictions but freedom of expression. So while I think they made repulsive statements, I don’t believe that, in their heads, they equate themselves w dogs, or blacks w dogs. I think they were trying, very poorly, to make a point about how art suffers when there are too many standards and rules inflicted on it.

    • Naya says:

      Ok then Coens, Oscars are unimportant. How about you now explain why you keep submitting your films for consideration. I seem to recalll you queuing for some TV awards quite recently too.

      These are clearly a very stupid pair of siblings.

  4. Lindy79 says:


    The whole point to me of OscarsSoWhite and to everyone going “waah maybe they actors of colour just weren’t good enough” is that the opportunities are not there for actors of colour and that’s the whole f**king point!

    As for the Martians and Dog comment…just no.

    • Cheryl says:

      Agree. I had no idea the white men folk were so threatened by the surplus of storytelling potential from dogs and martians. The integretity to their own perspective must be at epic heroic proportions to dismiss the chances of these groups being part of the story.

  5. Greenieweenie says:

    Spot on, I love these conversations because they are so revealing. They think of race in terms of identity rather than in terms of human experience. You either write a story that can have black people in it or you don’t–that’s their view. Not: you write a story about human experience, and any actor (not race!) who can convey that experience works for those roles.

    I mean, it just shows you how many people fail to see the human experience as transcending race. To them, our experiences are tied to our race so if you write a story about one experience–only one race can communicate it.

    It’s so much easier to see the racism and white privilege this way.

    • A says:

      Thiiissssss so much. Thank you!

    • ab says:

      yes! this comment is everything!

    • Marny says:

      I don’t totally agree. I think that is the perspective of white people but I think a lot of people of color would argue that their race IS a very important part of who they are and that it has impacted them in a number of ways since birth. White people (and white characters) and people of color (and characters of color) are not actually interchangeable- unless the parts are very one-dimensional. I don’t think that there is such a shortage of one-dimensional parts for people of color. In my opinion, it would actually take some effort and insight on the part of the writer to create an authentic character for a person of color, if the writer is white.

      • noway says:

        I see what you are saying, and you are right there should be more movies, plays and tv shows that are definitively character of color. Still not just one dimensional characters, but a lot of characters in movies the race of the character in that movie is inconsequential. Keep in mind as opposed to real life character only show a snippet, and although race may define a person it is not the only thing. Can James Bond be Black? Or for that matter could Matt Damon and Chiwetel Ejiofor have switched roles in the Martian? Now maybe these aren’t the best examples of complex characters, but I do think in a lot of things the race shouldn’t exclude actors from the part.

        My problem with just thinking you only need to create parts and movies specifically for people of color then you end up with some thinking it is just a picture for that particular race, and you really haven’t helped the divide. Granted there should be more of that, but I think we need to do both. When it isn’t an issue in the story look for the best actor.

        Also, keep in mind Straight Outta Compton, which did receive a writer’s nod at the Oscars was written by a bunch of white people. Ironic in so many ways, as I doubt the people who voted it in even knew that.

      • ab says:

        I disagree, I think there are life experiences and stories that are common and shared and interchangeable between races/ethnicities. I don’t feel like every aspect of my life is informed by that fact that I’m black. plenty of roles in films and tv that could have been filled by an actor of any color, not just one-dimensional roles. it’s one thing if you’re telling a story about a more specific cultural experience that is tied to a person’s racial identity, but the default everyman/everywoman doesn’t have to always be white.

      • Marny says:

        To agree with what you’re both saying, I recently watched People Places Things on Netflix. It was a very sweet movie starring a white guy who falls for a black woman and she and her daughter had substantial roles in the story. I think he could have fallen for someone of any race and the white writer would have made a few adjustments but otherwise the story would have been the same. However, if we’re talking about Oscar-nominated and Oscar-winning parts we’re usually talking about very meaty roles where the person is laid bare and I think that that usually (not always) means a person’s race would be a part of it. If we’re talking about 85% of the roles out there- yes, I think anyone who’s good could play them but I’m talking specifically about the OscarsSoWhite situation.
        p.s. I can’t speak to The Martian bc I didn’t see it.
        p.s.s. I would actually go to the theater and pay money to see a Bond movie if it starred Idris!!!

      • Greenieweenie says:

        @AB, you got my point exactly. Of course some experiences are specific to one race or nationality or gender, even. But your default Everyman should be *any* man. It shouldn’t always be Whiteman. Because most of our human experiences are shared. This is illustrated just in the way that one foreign language is largely translatable into another, even though there’s a great deal of variation in grammar and vocabulary, etc. We all navigate the world in roughly the same way. The majority of movies speak to these common experiences–romance, comedy, tragedy, success, failure–in ways where race or ethnicity just doesn’t play an important role beyond the context of setting, which is often disposable (one can be easily discarded for another).

        I’m white but one of my top movies growing up was In Love and Basketball. There was just so much in that movie speaking to women. Some of it was probably more specific to black women, sure, but that just made it more interesting to me–not less. I identified so strongly with her and we didn’t need to have race in common for that.

    • I Choose Me says:

      *Applause.* This comment and almost every comment above it is so on point that I’m feeling a little bit buoyed, despite the absolute wtfery for the Coen’s quotes.

  6. NewWester says:

    I am glad the #OscarsSoWhite conversation is happening and the public is hearing the views of people in Hollywood. It now makes me reconsider paying money to see any projects done by some people.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      Exactly. I’ve got a list that started strictly because of this and it’s AMAZING how quickly it grew. I thought Charlotte was insulting, this goes to show racial ignorance isn’t strictly something to hold against the older set. You can be young and complete ass too.

      • DDBee says:

        @ The Eternal Side Eye I was just coming to say that at this point we should just create a list of all the people who are doing absolutely nothing to promote inclusion. We should have the just to look at so we can make the choice not to support them and their exclusionary practices hidden behind the facad of so called “art”. Art is not more important than people’s lives and their ability to thrive regardless of where they’ve come from.

    • Scal says:

      Yea I had planned to see the new coen brothers movie this weekend, and now I’m not sure I can. It’s a shame.

    • Elisa the I. says:

      And I agree – the crucial question in all of this is:
      “Who determines what stories get to be told?”
      I hardly ever go to the movies anymore because the stories I am interested in are simply not told.

      Just take a lot at The Revenant: hasn’t the boy survival drama in the woods / at the frontier been told a gazillion times?

      Also, these 2 guys seem totally out of touch with reality.

    • Lizzie McGuire says:

      Whoa this is whoa, I mean it’s bad but it sheds light on the whole #OscarsSoWhite. He says he doesn’t understand the question, mhm how can you not understand the question English motherfuck*er, do you speak it? I’m with @Scal I was ready to go see their new movie but no more. I can’t believe they’re so ignorant with the diversity issue in films, they produce & direct films as well as casting choices. They know there’s a problem but they prefer to ignore it & compare it to Martians when questioned. So all minorities are as believable as Martians in films, I’m glad to figure that out thanks Coen brothers I’ll never go watch a film of yours ever again.

  7. Lindy79 says:

    What makes this bullshit worse is that Joel Coen and Frances McDormand have an adopted son from Paraguay so you would imagine he’d be a little more sympathetic to the core issue..

    • Alicia says:

      The core issue is that you tailor your cast to fit your story, not the other way around.

      The Coens weren’t whitesplaining or mansplaining, they were writersplaining. Considering they are two of the greatest screenwriters in cinema history, I’d say people should heed what they say.

      • justme says:

        Thanks @Alicia – I was wondering when someone was going to mention what they are actually saying. They want to do a story about Hollywood in the 1950s – it was white! That is just the way things are. If they wanted to do a movie about the Harlem Renaissance it would be full of black people. So why not do a movie about the Harlem Renaissance? Maybe it doesn’t speak to them. They are creators and creativity has nothing to do with mandated diversity.

      • Marty says:

        Because being a good screenwriter means you can’t be ignorant to the way diversity works? Or why it’s important? Seriously?! Boy, did the point just fly way over your head.

        A person’s talent is no indication of their social consciousness. Nor should it be an excuse for their ignorance.

      • Scal says:

        Setting aside the whole biopic-timeline debate (because that’s a different issue)-the fact is that you don’t have to write anything ‘special’ or rewrite your story to cast a POC. You write a story, you write a story about the human experience-and THEN you cast. Their argument is that they write stories and those ‘other people’ can’t possibly play them because in order to write for POC you have to change the story.

        That’s just not true. A serious man, burn after reading, raising arizona, inside llewyn davis, intolerable cruelty, even the hudsucker proxy. There is NOTHING about those stories that automatically rules out POC other than the Coen brothers not picturing them as part of the story.

      • justme says:

        Well A Serious Man is about Jews, so I think that would certainly rule out POC.

        They write what they want. They picture the characters as they do. They usually make money on their movies. Good for them. They are far more talented that most screenwriters.

      • Grant says:

        I’m still confused as to why there should be a POC in any of the Coen brothers’ films… As previously mentioned, Hail Caesar takes place in the 50s. Probably not a lot of POC in that story. Likewise with Fargo. Burn After Reading is different, and I think the argument for inclusion is valid with regard to that film. But adding a POC to any of the aforementioned films would have been done arbitrarily to satisfy a quota, which is exactly what the Coen brothers are against. I don’t understand why people are calling them racist when the presence of a POC often wouldn’t make sense in one of their scripts because of the story/setting.

      • Original T.C. says:

        “Well A Serious Man is about Jews, so I think that would certainly rule out POC.”

        At @Justme Israel has a population of Blacks from East Africa who are Jewish and descend from centuries of Black Jews. Their are also non-White Latinos in South America descended from centuries of Jewish ancestors. Most educated Jewish people over the age of 30 in my experience know this. I sincerely doubt the Cohen brothers who are considered intelligent would not know these facts.

        They simply pick and choose to write stories ONLY on White people. Same with their current movie, the chose a time period that would not require anyone but Whites in their movies.

        I would love to have this conversation about artistic license if the Cohens chose to do movies with only male characters or only in time periods where women’s roles in society are only to have babies and stay in the background.

      • justme says:

        @Original T.C., In A Serious Man, the characters are Midwestern Jews of Eastern European background. The Coen (not Cohen) brothers are Midwestern Jews of Eastern European background. They are not writing about Black Jews from East Africa, nor non-white Latinos in South America who are descended from centuries of Jewish ancesters, neither of whom were likely to be living in suburban Minnesota in the 1960s.

        So your complaint is that they write about what they want to write about, rather than what you want them to write about.

  8. Mrs. Wellen Melon says:

    Hollywood is insular and circles the wagons to protect its insularity.

    I’m shocked. Shocked.

  9. Beatrix says:

    If you compare having a diverse cast in your movies to aliens I think it possible to say that you have a preference for white actors and dont value anything else which is not far from being a [drum] racist ! Congratulations you’ve just showed your true self !

  10. Kiki says:

    I AM DONE. I have had it with these IDIOTS with their white, rich privileges and they showing off and rubbing it in our faces. I sick of these prejudice people. But it is just sad, because I look up to the Coen Brothers, I am hurt and disappointed with them. Therefor I hope their “hail Ceasar” flopped in the box office. Nuff said.

  11. Tiffany says:

    It is rich coming from a duo whose Oscar wins kept them afloat when their films were not making much money. But you know, Oscars are not important. Take a row.

    • funcakes says:

      They should have refused the Oscar like Marlon Brando did for the Godfather. At least he had balls,

  12. Jwoolman says:

    I think he’s just saying that their characters fit the story they are trying to tell. Writers work from their own experience and sometimes that experience is focused on particular gender/ethnic groups. That’s what they know. It would be like complaining when Spike Lee writes stories about black people and casts blacks in those roles. Just inserting a more diverse cast may not always work — sometimes the appearance of the actor matters or else it won’t be believable at this time in our culture.

    So diversity comes when more diverse people tell their own stories. The lack of diversity starts earlier than the final casting. If you want more diverse characters, ethnically and genderly speaking, find ways to support film makers and script writers of more diverse origins.

    This is actually different from the problem of casting which is too ethnically specific when it doesn’t need to be – in TV shows and movies where ethnicity really doesn’t matter (which is true most of the time), they need to be encouraged to not imagine a limited range of ethnicities for the actors cast in those roles. Probably just loudly and consistently complaining about it is the way to go there, so they pick non-white actors to prove they are promoting diversity (as Affirmative Action did in situations when whole groups would be ignored otherwise). The actors may be hired as diversity tokens, but each time this approach works, it will loosen up the casting for the next time.

    • alexc says:

      Great comment.

    • INeedANap says:

      I think you missed the larger point stated up top — fine, the story they’re telling has a lot of white men. But why tell that story? Why is the majority of the industry telling that story? Why is it such an uphill battle to tell a different story? That’s the root of racism.

      • JKL says:

        That’s an industry problem, not a Coen Brothers problem. Executives should absolutely greenlight more diverse stories, but why does that have to include every particular writer/director?

    • Kitten says:

      I agree with some of what you’re saying, particularly the part about these two white guys writing about what they know. On one hand, I’m not sure if it’s fair to single them out. On the other hand, wouldn’t it have been great if they took this as a challenge of sorts? Like, “hey you’re right, we don’t make diversity a focus on our films, but we’d like to try that going forward.”

      I mean, would it be that hard for them to get out of their comfort zone?

      They’re very talented, talented enough to take the time and research to get into the head of a PoC/minority and try to tell the story from their perspective, even if they don’t get it perfectly right. Additionally, this is why film makers hire consultants–to get that authenticity, that accuracy when they are unable to draw from personal experience.

      I don’t know…they came across as defensive and frankly, a bit lazy to me.

      • Sixer says:

        I do have some sympathy with the “verite” of perspective argument. Only some though, cos more often than not it’s about creators being precious. And they are being precious.

        What I don’t like is the rude reaction to being challenged. They could have said, “It’s true. Our perspective is narrow and limited, even though it is true and meaningful to us. We need to take this stuff on board.”

        Instead, as pointed out above, they choose to be totally offensive and reductive and compare POC to dogs and aliens. FFS. FFS. FFS.

      • Esmom says:

        Yes. I got what they were trying to say, too, but they have got to break out of their insistence that a character’s skin color, in their case white, is such an important part of writing about what they know. Of course there will be exceptions. But as someone said above, human experiences are universal. And as writers they have the power to demonstrate that human experience does indeed transcend race. They were extremely defensive.

      • Kitten says:

        @Esmom & Sixer-ITA completely.
        Their reaction was really off-putting and very telling.

      • Alicia says:

        “On the other hand, wouldn’t it have been great if they took this as a challenge of sorts? Like, “hey you’re right, we don’t make diversity a focus on our films, but we’d like to try that going forward.””

        Would you ask the same thing of Spike Lee? Doubtful.

      • Alicia says:

        “And as writers they have the power to demonstrate that human experience does indeed transcend race.”

        @Esmom – If the human experience transcends race, then why is it so important for the Coens to cast non-white actors? You seem to be contradicting yourself.

      • Kitten says:

        @ Alicia-No I wouldn’t ask that of Spike Lee because white folks aren’t lacking in movies. Hollywood could have ten more Spike Lees and we would still be seeing mostly white faces on the screen, that’s how deficient it is when it comes to diversity.

        People crack me up with this need to equalize everything in order to draw a comparison. It never washes because um, SLAVERY. The situation isn’t equal because black people aren’t treated the same as white people are in this country.

      • Sixer says:


        I’m an editor of fiction books, so, like I say, I do have sympathy with what they say about perspective in storytelling. For creators, the story is all. I get it.

        But nobody exists in a vacuum, even an artistic one.

        I agree with Kitten. One wouldn’t ask it of Spike Lee because there is no parity. If there was parity, nobody would be bothered at the Coens’ stories being whiter than white because there would be plenty of other stories. That’s the point. And to get to parity is going to need the dominant group to broaden its perspective AND the environment opening up to more than one kind of storyteller.

        These guys can’t see beyond themselves to such an extent that they open their mouths and equate POC to aliens and dogs. You can’t get much lower than that. Even if it is in defence of the vision of your work. It’s total narcissism.

      • SloaneY says:

        He also compared Jews to dogs and aliens. He is Jewish.

      • Marny says:

        Not sure who exactly I’m responding to but as for the comparison to dogs and aliens I think it sounded very offensive but I don’t think that’s how they meant it. I think that as writers, they are arguing that people are treating these characters they write in a very arbitrary way like, “why not get a martian to play the role?” when, in fact, white people (in most cases) have a different experience in this world than black people who have a different experience (imc) than chinese people, etc. etc.

      • Smara says:

        @ Sixer. I agree! But they couldn’t acknowledge their prespective as limited and narrow because they. don’t. think. it. is. They think they are “just telling stories”.

        What’s problematic for me, as a WOC, is how they (and many others like them) don’t see black people as their neighbors (girl next door, anyone?), or co-workers (meet cute rom-com!) or even human (MARTIANS Joel?! Really?).

        They are creative people, writing what they feel, doing what they love, relating stories with which they resonate. So say THAT. But their egos are too big.

        They don’t know that they don’t know.

        Because *whine* Martians aren’t real, people from China look different and speak a different langauge and Joel and Ethan just want to deal with reality and people who speak English and-and-

        I agree with what @Greenweenie said from above (pun intended) its not about the *black* experience. Its about a human one. Moving from always being *the other* to simply being a human with more melanin. Or a v*gina.

        (btw from a purely personal perspective I found that allusion to be truly hurtful. Being Af-Am as comparable to a non-human that doesn’t even exist…)

      • Esmom says:

        Alicia, I think you’re being disingenuous…and I think you know the answer to the question you asked me. If not, I think Kitten and Sixer answered it very well.

      • msd says:

        Oh dear. The Coen Bros are cranky at the best of times but this was even crankier than usual. Their comments about diversity were slightly better here:

        “If the question is whether or not there should be more people involved in the process, with more diverse backgrounds, so that what they write reflects a greater amount of diversity — that the business itself should be more open to people of different backgrounds, so that those stories come in — that’s a legitimate thing to talk about. The other thing is crazy.”

        The “other thing” they’re referring to is attacking what they choose to write about when the wider problem is that other people’s choices and stories aren’t valued.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      I would just like to point out though that the whole “writing what you know” argument is a bit weak when – and I love bringing up this turd – you look at movies like Exodus. Because this happens too. There is the aspect of the writing, as in stories are often written by white men and therefore feature a version of themselves going through things that represent their perspective. And then it won’t occur to anyone to cast a black guy. For example. But then they also write stories about f*cking Egyptians and … what is Charlie Hunnam doing? Playing a Mexican drug lord or something? That’s the second part of the problem. First the stories themselves, then the lack of imagination when it comes to casting, and third the whitewashing. All of it requires people to admit that they’re not colorblind and THAT is hard to do. Apparently.

      See, this is what happens when actors etc. want to be “asked more”. This is a topic that needs the discussion but my god, some interviews are harder to swallow than others.

      • Sixer says:

        YES! They’re not just writing their own stories; they’re REwriting everyone else’s story in their own image, too!

        (Generic they, not Coen they).

      • Kitten says:

        Such a good point.

      • Anon says:

        This “writing what you know” thing doesn’t wash. William Shakespeare was able to write about a Jewish man’s experience of antiSemitism and about prejudice against an interracial marriage. He came from a little provincial town in England, probably never left the UK in his whole life and he was writing in the 1600s when your only means of accessing other worlds was basically through books, which were expensive. Yet he managed to write about these and many other human experiences that were not “about” him.

      • Ennie says:

        Anon, There are writers for everything. There are stories that take us to the mind of a dog or a wolf (White Fang, The Call of the Wild), many others about aliens, or surrealistic stuff, fantasies, etc.
        Some writers will write about anything, even if it does not totally relate, like someone pointed about Shakespeare, but other will write about what they live or like.
        I was thinking of Alexandre Dumas, did he ever write something from the perspective of being a man of African descent? I recall his most important works mainly being about whites. Other female authors have written about male characters, it depends on inspiration, for some while others may do it custom made, made to order of someone.

        I wished the Coens were not singled out here. I wish there were more writers of different ethnicities and life experiences creating scripts that included the reality of a more diverse society.

    • ladysussex says:

      Well said @Jwoolman. As I a writer myself, this issue makes me a bit sensitive.

    • Maria says:

      And we’re saying he could tell the same story with the character being played by a non-White actor. It doesn’t have to change the story. You’re coming from the same place he’s coming from — casting a non-white actor makes the film about race. No, that is the core of racism in the film industry; that people of color are invisible or have ONE story to tell (the struggle of being Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native American), but there can be a THOUSAND stories told about whites. No.

      • msd says:

        They’re not saying everyone has to write what they know, or people can only ever write about what they know, though. They’re saying they want to be free to write what they want to write. Being allowed to make what you want to make is a position of huge privilege, yes, but I understand the point. If Woody Allen wants to write about Jewish Americans because he’s Jewish American that’s fine, just as it’s fine for Spike Lee to make films about African Americans or Scorsese to make films about Italian Americans. The problem is what doesn’t get made more than what does get made: the system values white stories over stories about poc, values male stories over female stories, and straight stories over gay stories etc.

        There’s an interesting interview with Gina Prince-Bythewood about discrimination manifesting itself in how individual choices are valued:

        “People ask me if I feel discriminated against as a black female director, and I actually don’t — because I’m offered movies all the time to direct. What’s discriminated against are my choices: I like to direct what I’ve written, and what I like to focus on are people of color. So that is absolutely the tougher sell, and the films that you have to fight much harder for, because the people making decisions are going to green-light films that they identify with and that make sense to them, and there are no people of color running studios.”

      • Marny says:

        msd, i agree completely and appreciate the quote from Gina Prince-Bythewood.

  13. lucy2 says:

    Wow, they SO don’t get it, and could not have come off worse here.
    They certainly could write characters that are racially diverse – why would that be so hard? Or they could also just write characters with no identified race, and then cast some of them with POC. Why is that such a foreign idea to them?

    • Tiffany says:

      It their mind they never had to so why should they start now. Hollywood has let them do it and will continue to do so.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      Exactly. While we can certainly enjoy stories that deal with exploring a cultural perspective there’s this warped perception where an Indian actor or Latino actor would be wrapped in so much stereotype it’d cloud their precious vision.

      Newsflash: people of different races can be shockingly ‘normal’ we sing, dance, jog and go shopping like everyone else and our skin tone just happens to be different.

    • funcakes says:

      I’m a big Cohen Brother fan and notice throughout all their film that diversity is extremely sparse in their films. But after this interview I’ll be saving my “Hail Caesar “.

      • lucy2 says:

        I too have liked a lot of their films.
        I’m willing to give a little leeway on historical period pieces, or even on historical figures, but look at Burn After Reading – set in modern times, all fictional characters, set in Washington DC if I remember correctly, and every actor on the cast list is white.

    • Miss Jupitero says:

      Even if the character isn’t explicitly a person of color in the script, they *can* cast a person of color. E.g., there is no reason why Margie Gunderson or her husband or her partner, or one of the victims, etc. etc. could not have been vast with a person of color.

      I’d like to suggest the following: Unless there is a genuine and pressing reason directly related to the script as to why a character *must* be played by a white person (it’s a biopic, etc.), why not cast a person of color?

      It’s a start. Let’s do this for the next hundred years or so and see how things change.

      • Holmes says:

        That’s precisely my issue with this. In many of their films, there’s no good reason why all the characters have to be white. Fargo? Okay, maybe that makes sense for the story. But, say, The Big Lebowski–youre going to tell me LA was 99% white in the 90s? I have seen that movie an, uh, embarrassing number of times, and there is one character of color that I can recall (the black taxi driver who loves the Eagles). Okay, fine, they cast Oscar Isaac in Inside Llewyn Davis, and there is the woman of Asian ancestry in the one dinner scene, but that’s it! Everyone else is white! Again, you’re going to tell me NYC was 98% white in the 1960s?

  14. Kate says:

    Do they have any control over casting their scripts? If not, then I kinda get what they are saying. If they are just writing the story, then why are they being asked about diversity? Could it have been said better? Of course. You can twist anyone’s words to sound racist or sexist depending on your own point of view. Nobody is ever going to explain their opinion just right. Just ask my hubs, I love to twist his words (jokingly) into what he calls womanisms. That doesn’t make my “womanisms” his actual opinion, it just means I’m reading more into the words that are coming out of his mouth. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not #Oscarssowhite is overinflated, I’m just saying people have got to stop looking for things to be upset about every time someone opens their mouth.

    • lilacflowers says:

      Well, they do manage to cast Joel’s wife Frances in every film and a number of other actors like Clooney, John Goodman, and Tilda Swinton repeatedly. They do direct their own films. They do have some power.

    • lucy2 says:

      They are writer/director/producer on many of their projects, so I would imagine they have great input into casting.
      On something where they simply write a script and pass it off, probably not. But more often than not, they’re involved start to finish.

    • Miss Jupitero says:

      They cast their friends. These are their films, and they have plenty of power.

  15. Des says:

    To play devil’s advocate, I will say that asking the question of this particular movie *is* idiotic – we’re complaining that Hollywood is overwhelmingly white and then criticising a movie set in 1950s Hollywood for not having a diverse cast? That’s the WHOLE POINT. The only black or asian people that could make it into that movie would be maids or butlers or folks playing mammy in the movies. Which is a whole other problem.

    That said, this was a particularly revealing interview because it shows that they don’t realize where the problem stems from. Like, it begins with what gets written, who writes it, who pitches it, who greenlights it, who makes it. He’s not wrong when he says he doesn’t think of race and diversity when he starts to tell a story – he’s just badly expressing a blind spot where vanilla begets vanilla because vanilla is all vanilla knows.

    • Kitten says:

      Well they might not be able to tell this particular story, that’s true. But let’s not pretend that there were no black actors in the 1950s– Dorothy Dandridge, Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, to name a few.

      • justme says:

        Very few – and you have named most of them. And they would appear in the sort of movies which were “groundbreaking” etc. the beginning of the post-studio period. This movie looks like it is following the normal workings of the studio period – Esther Williams, Gene Kelly, Cecil B. DeMille epics etc.

        It looks like it will be hilarious! I will make sure I see it.

      • Deering says:

        Kitten–and given the ensemble nature of HAIL, CAESAR, there’s no reason in the world that one or two of the stars that Brolin’s lead has to help couldn’t have been black. Poitier and Dandridge’s real life backstories could be the basis for any number of interesting untold off-camera goings-on even if you discount the drama they experienced as black actors. Just because history is written by the (white) winners that doesn’t mean non-whites weren’t there at all.

  16. greenmonster says:

    This reminds me of people who are against same sex marriage and come up with “next people wanna marry their goat” crap. Asian, latino and black actors are not the same thing as martians. And then the dog comparison… This is beyond tone deaf, insulting and stupid.

    You don’t even necessarily need to write a story about POC. Write a script and then hire a diverse cast. POC can play something different than slaves, drug dealers or gangsters.

  17. als says:

    The money people decide all that, Kaiser. The actors, directors and writers are employees.
    Amy Adams showed you exactly her employee status when she kept silent during the pay gap debacle.
    Some employees are better than others and higher in ranking but they are still employees or have the mentality of employees.
    Who here decides who gets hired at their work place?
    The Coens made it clear that this is their story and their perspective and it’s stupid to ask them why they don’t have another perspective. And people financed them.
    How about the media makes some efforts to dig deeper and actually follow the money? You can shame these celebs all you want, it’s the easy thing to do. Also who is guilty for the fact that people involved in child molestation and rape scandals make movies?

    • sanders says:

      I don’t know if the lines are that clearly drawn between the ‘money people’ and directors and writers the stature of the Cohens.

      als, please read Chris Rocks comments where he talks about fighting to cast black and brown women in his projects and has been successful. It can happen if there is a will.

      I am stunned at the level of dehumainzation of poc contained in the martian/dog references. Very sad.

      • als says:

        I feel like the fact that Chris Rock ‘fought’ to get black and brown women hired for his projects proves my point: he can fight and he can push but for all his fame and money he is not a significant part of the decision-making process. (even though these are his projects!)
        I haven’t seen yet a mega producer asked about this issue. Or a mega financier, the head of a studio that approves these stories. It’s probably because these are people difficult to get to.
        All actors, writers, directors, that are selling their product should be asked about this but the press should make greater efforts to find the people behind the curtains and get their views as well. Or should we just wait for another hack to see what’s going on there?

      • sanders says:

        als, I’d agree that the bigger players behind the scenes need to be asked about inclusion too.
        For me though, it does not negate or diminish what Chris Rock is doing. He is still way ahead of the Cohen brothers or Woody Allen. These are cultural producers who can choose whomever they want in their films and have the academy shower them with awards. They need to be held accountable too. I prefer these individuals be asked over actors who probably have very little input.

        Even one additional poc lead in a film can go a long way to changing the culture, never mind validating the existence of all of us, and there are many, who are not white.

  18. SM says:

    ”Oscars ars are not important”. I guess we shouldn’t hold our breath to see Leo in a Coen brothers movie. Judging by what they have to say they would make a perfect match

  19. CidySmiley says:

    The first thing that struck me was the whole smug tone of the article, they sound so … you can tell that they just don’t care about the issue and I think that’s the big highlight of this conversation. These men don’t care about the diversity issue because they profit from it. That’s institutional racism, that’s what that is. They make more money as white men to keep casting and creating these all white stories. They don’t care to better society or tell new stories, or expand their view they want the money.

  20. Tania says:

    I was going to see this movie because of the Coen Brothers, now I’m not going to see it because of the Coen Brothers.

    Thanks for saving me $12.50!

    • funcakes says:

      I was waiting an entire month to see this movie. Well, that’s not going to happen now.

      • Christin says:

        I am to the point I won’t pay to see a movie. It’s usually not too long before it hits cable. If it’s overrated, I don’t feel like I wasted my time and must going to the theater.

  21. Bitchy architect says:

    Wow. This is so incredibly disappointing and depressing. To see someone of this intellectual caliber completely refusing to acknowledge their own privilege or bias…
    Why couldn’t they at least say ‘this is a totally valid criticism’?
    As someone who is also a writer – I grant you its just a hobby – this explanation is just pure defensiveness and laziness.
    This whole conversation made me take a hard look at my own writing. And guess what-I found it lacking in racial diversity. So I made some changes. It made the storey so much more nuanced ,realistic, and interesting . It’s better writing and it’s more interesting and fun to write about people whose culture or experiences are not your own.

  22. Talie says:

    It’s backfiring though. People don’t like to be called racist or backed into a corner — like cats, you know? They start scratching.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      So what’s the payback?

      To paraphrase Amandla they’re already not giving awards to black talent or casting them in their movies so there’s not much punishment to dole out unless they want to really go retro on us and start putting, “Whites Only.” signs on things.

      Besides this genie isn’t going back in its bottle. The fact this happened twice in a row is exactly why it’s now a huge deal.

    • Sixer says:

      I don’t call it scratching: I call it a narcissistic reflex. If people are asked to look into a mirror and react aggressively because they don’t like what they see, it’s their own fault, not the fault of the people holding up the mirror.

      • Dangles says:

        Narcissistic reflex isn’t just limited to Hollywood. I’ve noticed the default position for some of the people on this site is to go on the attack before they’ll entertain the idea that they might be wrong.

    • Iknowwhatboyslike says:

      I’m sure many Civil Rights, women’s rights, gay and lesbian people were told that “people do not want to be called out for their prejudices,” but they persisted anyway because you have to make people uncomfortable with their crap. Throw it in their faces, make them face it.

  23. RhoSue says:

    If Oscars are not diverse enough, do away with them. Don’t watch. Don’t go. If any of you people have a script running around in your head, be as diverse as you possible can. Go for it. Go all black, Asian, whatever. If you don’t like the casting; DO NOT SEE THE PICTURE. I would rather have no awards than give one to everybody. Nobody really wants a participation trophy.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      Nobody said anything about handing out Oscars to any and everybody just for participating.

  24. michelle says:

    There is only one question we Should ask ,is the person is Worthy or not
    to Get the nomination, Regardless of there ethnicity, gender,or Sexual orientation.

    • Bitchy architect says:

      I respectfully disagree. Julia Roberts case in point . I can’t imagine a less talented actress and yet she won an Oscar. And Erin Brocovitch was a terrible movie. So clearly receiving/ being nominated for an Oscar is not about your acting skills or even the quality of the movie .

      • Christin says:

        Yes! There have been several other allegations through the years regarding someone receiving the award because of factors other than the quality of the performance. Elizabeth T may have gotten a sympathy vote back in 1960, and others are said to have been ‘due’ one after being overlooked for years.

      • Jay says:

        You say that like it’s a fact. The only fact is that statements like “that actress is talented” or “that movie was bad” are OPINIONS. Clearly the academy voters didn’t share your outlook… that doesn’t mean there’s some big conspiracy.

  25. Adrien says:

    They cast half Asian girl Hailey Steinfeld in True Grit. The brothers have reached their Asian quota. What’s Wes Anderson’s opinion on this?

    • word says:

      Hailee’s maternal grandfather was of half Filipino (Boholano) and half African-American descent. So to call her “half Asian” isn’t really correct. She’s not even 1/4 Asian. So she really can pass as Caucasian to the Cohen brothers lol.

  26. Elizabeth says:

    One of the things I’m finding is that people whose movies I don’t like are the people saying dumb-a$$ things like these two.

  27. siri says:

    The thing is: WHO is telling stories, and getting them greenlighted through a studio full of white guys. But not only that, what perception of society do those people have? When you live in HW, or within a certain elitair circle of people, what kind of stories come to mind? I fully understand why the Coen brothers do not understand the question: they do not live in “real” society. And in the meantime, they believe the hype surrounding them. As much as I enjoyed some of their movies (Fargo, Barton Fink), these two are not profound thinkers. They ‘just wanne make art’, and confuse people with weird plots. I bet they never considered the institutional component of racism either.

  28. Cynthia says:

    Honest to God, I don’t understand why is it so difficult to fathom writing stories and casting people regardless of their ethinicity. The problem with the whole system is that they think that if you want to write a Black or Indian character you have to change so many things … when it’s not the case. You don’t need “a reason” to write an Asian love interest.

    • Jayna says:

      “Regardless of their ethnicity.,” There you go,. Not a black character or Asian character, etc. Just a character who happens to be black or Asian or Latino.

      All they had to do is acknowledge they could do better and move on. I don’t believe in browbeating every movie director and casting agent and studio and dissecting each movie and telling directors what to do, I do believe they should look at their body of work and realize where they could have done better and included people of color easily and given good or great actors a chance to work and reflect the diversity of our country, and vow to do better in the future, Why not wanting to be part of the solution of the problem with diversity in Hollywood?

      It’s that simple

    • Bitchy architect says:

      @cynthia’s comment+1000. Just requires some imagination.

    • Miss Jupitero says:

      Pretty much what I said above +1,000,000

      Part of the problem is that people treat white as the “default.” Directors don’t consider casting POC actors unless the character must be played by a POC actor due to something in the story. Otherwise they default to white.

      I am thinking about all the characters I have liked in films I have seen in the past year, and very, very few needed to be cast with white actors. They could have easily been played by POC actors. There is no reason at all why James Bond cannot be a POC, etc. There is plenty of room for making things more inclusive. All they have to do is think of it.

    • xflare says:

      I can’t wait to see Will Smith playing Winston Churchill.

      • Cynthia says:

        You tried it.
        You know that’s not what we are talking about. We are talking about films supposedly set in cities like New York or LA in modern times with all white casts. It’s not credible that in multicultural cities all the characters must be lily white.

      • CLINIQUA says:

        -1 @xflare.

        No one has ever advocated that historical characters be played by actors who don’t resemble them in the slightest. Yea, haha Will Smith doesn’t look like Winston Churchill, neither does John Turrturro or Adrien Brody, in fact of the three, Will probably looks more like him. The point is, your comment is trollish.

        No reason why there can’t be a black or Asian wife in Paranormal Activity though. Or, a Latina playing opposite Jeremy Renner in his next movie, or Michael B. Jordan replacing Jeremy Renner in all the Jeremy Renner movies.

      • Miss Jupitero says:

        You know perfectly well what I am saying. You are especially lame at trolling.

        Name a film that is not a biopic or based on historical events with characters such as Kennedy or Churchill. Give me a good reason why any of the cast needs to be white. Seriously. 90% of what is out there could be played by anyone.

    • Dangles says:

      Exactly. Write your characters as you normally would and then have a diverse cast. It’s unfair that actors from minority groups are expected to represent their entire race while white actors only have to represent the character they’re playing.

  29. Deedee says:

    There’s a great scene in the documentary, Casting By, where the director of the 80s movie Lethal Weapon, Richard Donner, is talking about casting director Marion Dougherty and how she was pushing for Danny Glover for a lead role, and how he hadn’t had it in his mindset until then to cast anyone but a white man. Of course, Marion was right. Here we are, decades later, and I wonder if there are casting directors who would challenge the “director’s vision” in the same way, especially if those directors have a narrow point of view.

  30. Kitten says:

    Since it was brought up, I’d actually like to see more dogs in films.
    And cats.
    LOTS of cats please.

    • Miss Jupitero says:

      The movie Children of Men cast a truly awesome cat in all of Michael Caine’s scenes. No matter what was happening, that cat slept. That cat should have gotten its own Oscar.

    • SloaneY says:

      I imagine most cats are too independent to be reliably trainable. Obviously it depends upon the cat.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      Lots and lots more cats. And tigers. There need to be more tigers.

  31. Miss Jupitero says:

    Keep it coming Kaiser! *clapclap*

  32. Who ARE these people? says:

    A breakdown of the $$$ boost Oscars give movies:

    And I’m sure the Coen bros. are well aware of it, too. It’s not like they donate their time.

  33. Tiffany says:

    The Coen’s will learn when their botton line is effected. There are other people besides Caucasians that pay to go to the movies.

    I always had this feeling after watching the trailer for this film. Things were going to be tense if they open their mouth to speak. And that I will not be seeing it.

  34. Sarah01 says:

    Totally missed the point, can’t believe they don’t get it!!!
    I’m not talking about writing a story about 4 black people, three Jews and a dog. It’s about writing a movie with interesting characters and giving equal opportunity to a diverse group when casting. Why is it so hard to understand. When I watched Star Wars I wasn’t thinking hey finn is a black guy, I was like hey Finn who used to be a storm trooper and is fighting the bad guys is awesome!
    Or when I used to watch Archie playing Kalinda in the good wife, I wasn’t like oh that’s an Indian woman playing a investigator, I was like hey that Kalinda is a badass investigator.
    For example in the the Martian I would have liked Chiwetel play Mark Watney instead of Matt Damon or maybe a woman who gets stranded on Mars.

  35. suze says:

    All the white people who have benefited from the Hollywood system as is need to stop explaining it. Really, you’re embarassing yourselves.

  36. Brittney B. says:

    Guess I’m not seeing that movie after all.

    Too livid to read the other comments, so I apologize if this is a repeat… but his asinine comment about “black or Chinese or Martians” is even more harmful and hateful and willfully oblivious than all those nauseating comments about “not seeing color”.

    It’s like the people who say “I don’t care if you’re white, black, red, or purple.” Way to dismiss the identities of millions. Way to lump people of color in with people who DON’T EVEN EXIST. Okay, so you can trivialize race and pretend it doesn’t matter… try doing that as a person of color.


    • jmacky says:

      Right on.

      What they said also makes me do a double take with the roles in Coen Bros. movies that are played by PoC—like what screwy mindset of stereotyping is going when they created the role of Gus played by Cedric the Entertainer in Intolerable Cruelty—is there a stock type of “black” presence that an actor of color creates for them in the writing process? I actually hope they never write a character that is female or non-white after this. Yikes!

      This is so weird and sad and very much what other posters have said–the meta narrative of what they share is that there is a normative in storytelling. A “classic” point of view – masculine, white, hetero, etc. Again, maybe that is the only point of view they can write from, but to say that one is 1) the norm; 2) opening up storytelling to different story tellers, actors, directors, points of view is not that important; and 3) rewarding the same type of story over and over again is “no big deal” really sucks.

      The roots of Hollywood and vaudeville shows in this country were often based on racial, gender and class stereotyping–stock characters to quickly communicate identity, humor and a certain wink to the audience. That wink is a hegemonic idea, let’s reassert a stereotype by creating a character who embodies these notions. Are they so detached from their roots but oblivious to how the entertainment machine perpetuates the same old ideas??? For me, one of the strongest arguments in the #OscarsSoWhite debate is saying, Hollywood, get with reality! You are telling stories that we are tired of, aren’t relevant or perpetuate injustice!

      Disappointed, not surprised.

  37. Amelie says:

    There are two issues here: the stories and the casting. It seems as if Hollywood needs to address both issues. Re: George Clooney’s statement about the casting of Murrow…well, why was it OK to cast Sir Laurence Olivier (a caucasian) in the role of Otello? This movie of Shakespeare’s play had Oliver in blackface. Otello was a Moor, a person of color. Why not cast a person of color in the role of Morrow in whiteface? Plays and opera do revisions in role and setting all the time while preserving the core meaning of the artistic piece. Hollywood should take note.

    • justme says:

      Because it had been the tradition since the days of Shakespeare to cast a white man who was blacked up. That movie was a fairly faithful copy of a very successful stage production. You cannot now cast a white man as Othello however.

      Also had you cast a man of color, then it would not have been Laurence Olivier, and it was his performance which caused the movie to be made in the first place.

      And Morrow in whiteface? Please.

      • Marty says:

        The fact that you just used the term “whiteface” as an excuse in your comment let’s me know everything about your perspective when it comes to diversity.

      • justme says:

        @Marty — I was quoting @Amelie, who thought they should have cast a black actor in “whiteface” as Edward R. Murrow.
        She said: “Why not cast a person of color in the role of Morrow in whiteface? ”
        Read her comment before you talk about my perspective. It was her choice of words, not mine.

      • Amelie says:

        Tradition is based on culture; cultural beliefs, mores, rules. If you look at this issue (theatre arts) historically, you found men playing the role of women in operas; you found only men acting in plays until the 1600’s or so. These are just a few examples.

        I provided the example of the Othello movie with Olivier as it was made in 1965. There was tremendous cultural change happening the ’60s and ’70s and yet a ‘black’ role was played by a caucasian in blackface. The arts usually lead the way in cultural change and I think Hollywood-for whatever reason-is not evolving in the same way as the theatre, fine arts music etc. Consider that Ben Kingsley played Gandhi in a 1982 movie-in darkface.

        Oh and regarding the issue of an actor being able to play any role. IMO, it’s all about talent. Consider Meryl Streep. Meryl’s talent is such that she could easily play the role of someone of color-IMO

      • justme says:

        A “black” role was played by a man who was at that time considered one of the greatest actors in the world. It was a stage production originally and is very much like a filmed play. It was a very famous production and the cast was carried over from the National Theatre (in fact the Iago in this version, the wonderful Frank Finlay just died). Olivier was the main reason it was filmed.

        A later Othello was filmed by Oliver Parker and Laurence Fishburne played the role. Nowadays no white actor would be cast as Othello.

        Oh and Ben Kingsley is half Indian. His father Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, is of Gujarati Indian descent. So he didn’t require full darkface.

        And all hell would break loose if Meryl Streep played a Black woman – probably here.

      • Marty says:

        @justme- You’ve made your narrow-minded perspective perfectly clear. You don’t understand the importance of what people are saying about diversity, and it’s obvious you don’t want to either.

      • Ennie says:

        I thought Ben Kingsley was an Englishman of Indian descent?
        His real/original name is Krishna Bhanji.

      • Amelie says:

        “Oh and Ben Kingsley is half Indian. His father Rahimtulla Harji Bhanji, is of Gujarati Indian descent. So he didn’t require full darkface.”

        Apparently he doesn’t look East Indian enough because they tinted his skin. The same as if a caucasian is chosen to play the role of an American Indian and his skin is tinted. This happens very frequently in Westerns.

        Your posts indicate that it apparently OK for caucasians to play people of another color, but not possible for a person of color to play a caucasian. We will continue to disagree on this.

      • Justme says:

        @Amelie, No I’m afraid you misunderstood my comments -which is probably my fault. I meant that Olivier’s Othello, which was done nearly 50 years ago and not actually by Hollywood, is a bad example, because it was a more of filmed play – an attempt to preserve forever a famous production. Olivier was following in 400 years of theater history by wearing blackface. Since it was originally a stage play it could be less “realistic” than is usually demanded by film — see the musical Hamilton today for instance, where Blacks and Hispanics play the founding fathers — and it works wonderfully according to a friend of mine who managed to get tickets! When Othello was filmed more realistically by Oliver Parker, it was Laurence Fishbourne, a Black man who played Othello, since a blacked up white man would look strange to us on film – certainly nowadays.

        I don’t think that there is any need for white actors to play “people of color”, since there are plenty of fine actors of right ethnicity to play those parts. There are some nationalities of course which allow more wiggle room. Many Hispanics appear white and could be played by say, Italians and vice versa, as Andy Garcia has played Italians. But a dark-skinned African could not play a person of British origin and a person of British origin could not play a dark-skinned African – on film mind you. It is quite different in the more artificial world of the stage. It would just look odd to everyone in the world of movies which more closely imitate reality.

    • Alicia says:

      Ummm, you do realize that Murrow was an actual person, right? You’re talking apples and oranges.

      • CLINIQUA says:

        I agree. If you’re talking real historical characters the best thing to do is go for someone who resembles them the most, and that is typically someone who shares the same racial background.

        By the same token, if someone identifies as black but looks white (say if Ty Burrell who learned he had black women matriarchs in his family tree) wants to ID as black and play Murrow I think he’d be perfect (NOT saying he IDS as black, but there are ppl who look white and ID as black)

        We shouldn’t rule out people playing real historical characters once we learn their background, it should literally be the best actor for the job AND who bears a good resemblance.

  38. Dee says:

    I agree that people put too much importance on the Oscars. But I also understand the frustration of lacking diversity. Generally, white people never had to struggle the way people of color do. I am not surprised persay by this reaction. Nor does it take away my love for the Coen Brothers…I just won’t be buying a ticket to see this in theatres. But that’s because I can download it online…

  39. Frosty says:

    I’m glad people are talking (*not* screaming) about this subject, even when I disagree with them. Funny how suddenly the Oscars are “meaningless” just as more and more minorities are seeking acknowledgement. The interview shows the institutionalized resistance and willful obtuseness at play. Surely lower pay for women is also related.
    I read something that goes to this, not specifically about entertainment but certainly related, in this morning’s times:

  40. Homework says:

    So I wrote a script for a indie film (not produced) and aside from the lead character being female with a vaguely Slavic background, I feel any other character could easily be portrayed by any race.

    One character is bald, that is key to how I see him. But any race of man could be bald.

    My next script has 4 leads and they were initially white because I am modeling them off white comedians that I love. However, this conversation made me realize I didn’t really have an inspiration for the fourth guy so why not make him a person of color? For now, I am seeing him as Eddie Murphy, but playing someone very different from Eddie Murphy.

    That’s my writing process.

    I have aspects that are important and perhaps inflexible for my story. But there are plenty of aspects that ARE flexible. This story happens to have 50/50 female and male characters. Now one lead is a person of color.

    If you pushed me, maybe I could make one of the females a person of color. But right now, I am so inspired by the Amy Poehler/Tina Fey dynamic that I am writing it with them in mind, even though I may not specify that they have to be white.

    I wish it were more diverse than that, but I can work in more. There are lots of minor roles. It’s just that I’m using the persona of these comedians to write, imagining them playing the characters and how they’d do it.

    Things were easier in my first script because I did not work that way. Gee, I guess there is more than one way to write a script, lol!

    Full disclosure, I am white. But I feel I can write characters of color and imagine them from the inside, just as quirky or unique as anybody else. I like characters that are misfits or outsiders, so I’m not trying to be political. Just getting into a character’s head and life and developing them through story.

    I guess I wonder if I will be judged for this, but I will argue that characters of color can exist in any form and have all kinds of qualities and experiences in life and if you disagree with how I see mine, then you can write your own.

  41. Jess says:

    I’m from Minnesota so I’ve always loved the Coen Brothers but everytime I’ve seen a Hail, Caesar trailer all I can think is, “Why is is so white?” And now I know. Sigh…these boys are so disappointing and they’ve just freed up a Friday night for me. I’m going to go rewatch Aziz’s Master of None instead.

    • Twodollars says:

      This Minnesotan feels the same way. Once I noticed how white “Hail Oscar” was I started going through the cast of their previous movies and I honestly can’t think of any major role in Coen Bros movie played by someone who wasn’t white outside of Oscar Isaac. The only other minority actor I can think of in their movies is that Asian guy in Fargo. It’s pretty appalling.

      They don’t seem to get it at all. There is no reason that Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character in “Intolerable Cruelty” couldn’t be played by Kerry Washington. Or why any of the characters in “Burn After Reading” couldn’t have been played by a minority character. Not one word of dialogue would have had to change. They seem to think that having a minority actor play a role in their movies would change the role or the movie. It doesn’t.

  42. Kori says:

    I’d like to focus on this part: “It’s assigning way too much importance to the awards. By making such a big deal, you’re assuming that these things really matter. I don’t think they even matter much from an economic point of view. So yes, it’s true—and it’s also true that it’s escalating the whole subject to a level it doesn’t actually deserve. Diversity’s important. The Oscars are not that important.”

    It’s ironic coming from them. Most of their movies have been more cult favorites rather than huge box office successes (though they’ve had some). They’ve been nominated 42 times for various Oscars and won 6. Awards and critical acclaim are what allows them to keep making movies–it’s not because they’re grossing $200 million. They attract people to work for them because of their critical acclaim and not because they’re going to pay them $20 million dollars so they keep their budgets lower. They wouldn’t have that power if it wasn’t for awards. So it’s a bit disingenous I think to make the above statement.

    • Twodollars says:

      They wouldn’t have a career without Oscar and other awards. Their movies make very little money but still get good size budgets and marketing campaigns. They attract A-List Actors because their movies are awarded so often. Without the awards, their careers would be nowhere.

    • Alicia says:

      “Awards and critical acclaim are what allows them to keep making movies–it’s not because they’re grossing $200 million.”

      The Coens’ get to keep making movies because they are profitable. Hail, Caesar! had a production budget of $22 million, it’ll make its money back in a matter of weeks. That’s what they do, make low to mid-budget films that turn easy profits.

      And they attract people to work for them because they are good at what they do. Stanley Kubrick’s films never got much awards love, yet actors jumped at the chance to work with him.

      They are in the perfect position to judge the importance of the Oscars, since they’ve won plenty of them. There’s no sour grapes on their part (ala Sam Jackson), they simple accurately judge the Oscars for what they are.

      • Kori says:

        I said critical acclaim as well as low budgets were critical to them in addition to the Oscars. But I think they were disproving their own point–that these types of things don’t matter. They do. And I never said there was sour grapes–or even implied it. I said it was a bit disingenuous and ironic.

  43. AlmondJoy says:

    I am on a quick break and very late to the thread but I just want to say that this interview is surprising, hurtful and most of all eye opening. I haven’t gotten a chance to read all the comments so I’m sure I’m not the first to say how ludicrous it is they lump people of color and MARTIANS in the same category. Seriously?! What’s even more disheartening is that there are probably others out there who agree with their twisted thinking and feel the same.

    This conversation has revealed so much. Who knew it would go this far? And even on a small scale, it makes me wonder how people view me.

    • word says:

      Yup and when their movie bombs, they can blame it on all the non-whites who didn’t want to watch it !

    • loladoesthehula says:

      Right? My list of faves is getting shorter & shorter :-(. On the plus side, movie tickets are expensive af in my country, so my bank account thanks you, tactless, oblivious white people!

      Also I’m sorry but if you’re so unimaginative that you can’t conceive a world outside of your little bubble you’re not much of writer. I need to the send them a copy of Ourika by Claire de Duras. If an overprivileged aristocratic white lady managed to write a complex, intelligent woc in freaking 1823, so can you!!

  44. My Two Cents says:

    What concerns me on all these discussions is the attack on freedom of speech. Today, with social media, people are asked questions and depending on answer given they may or may not be attacked. People seem to want a universal robotic answer from everybody of importance or else. What happened to that is their opinion and everyone is entitled to their own opinion and choices.

    • Tiffany says:

      Freedom of speech means you will not be jailed for the words you say. Companies are still entitled to write you up or fire you for saying inappropriate things and the public has a right to call you on it. When did this become one in the same.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      To add to what Tiffany says: so what?

      If you actually believe in what you say then you ignore the comments that disagree with you. You have to accept no one is owed your money or respect. If a man compares me to an alien then I should, with freedom of speech, able to not watch his movies or give him my money.

    • mp says:

      This is a gossip site that doesn’t mind to call a spade a spade, meaning if a celeb says something ignorant, homophobic, racist, elitist or sexist, we have every right to call BS.

    • jc126 says:

      Good luck with that – there’s way too much parsing of every word someone says (probably off the cuff to begin with) and slamming people as racist or any other insult or saying stuff like “I can’t wait til all the old white people die” which I’ve seen here in other comments to articles. I don’t *necessarily* think they were really comparing black people to Martians or dogs; how I took it at least was that they were saying they weren’t going to have some formulaic, boilerplate character bank that they were going to insert into each story.

  45. Boston Green Eyes says:

    Next up on the topic of diversity in the film industry —– Woody Allen!!

    • Tiffany says:

      And Martin Scocese, Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg…the list can go on.

      • Boston Green Eyes says:

        The reason I mention Woody Allen is that almost all of his films take place in New York City and he’s infamously known not to have ANY black people in them. Imagine that. NYC w/o any black people!

      • Tiffany says:

        @Boston. The same can be said for Scocese.

  46. chelsea says:

    He gave the truthful answer, and now he’s going to get skinned alive for it from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Another day on the Internet.

    • FingerBinger says:

      The Coens deserve it. They’re being very dismissive of a serious issue.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      …this defense just doesn’t make any logical sense to me.

      Are people not supposed to react to things they feel are negative or are they supposed to just bow at other’s feet lapping like a dog happy at everything they say?

      It seems like the Internet has finally given people the ability to give anyone feedback on their comments. They were insulated enough to make the comments I won’t be surprised when they’re gobstruck that black people don’t like being compared to dogs.

      • cr says:

        “Are people not supposed to react to things they feel are negative or are they supposed to just bow at other’s feet lapping like a dog happy at everything they say? ”

        By reacting negatively to them you’re oppressing their freedom of speech to say stupid things with consequence! /snark

  47. Maggie says:

    Alice Walker recently bought the house we rented. She wrote “The Color Purple”. Wasn’t the majority of actors in that movie black? Perhaps there needs to be more black writers?
    Maybe there should be Black only Oscars. As a white person I feel I must be conscious of how or what I say because it might be considered not PC. However I hear people of color say very racist things about whites. I feel especially vulnerable to racism whenever I go through US or Canadain airport security. Most of the people that work there are immigrants of color and I’ve felt because I am a blue eyed blonde haired well dressed white woman I’m being singled out and treated with total disrespect. They do it because they can and its a power trip. Recently our Canadain prime minister appointed equal numbers of women and men to our cabinet. I find this disturbing as I would rather have the person most qualified and suited for the position no matter their gender. I’d also like to add that watching basketball most of the players are black. They are amazing athletes and excellent at that particular sport. White guys don’t measure up. Should I then think the sport is discriminating against whites and the teams should be more diverse? I hope that I’m not offending anyone by making this comment and asking these questions.

    • cr says:

      “Recently our Canadian prime minister appointed equal numbers of women and men to our cabinet. I find this disturbing as I would rather have the person most qualified and suited for the position no matter their gender.”
      I haven’t followed the details of the qualifications of Trudeau’s cabinet choices (except for the defence minister), but here’s a question: What if he wasn’t picking solely on gender/race but actually on qualifications and giving chances to women that would be overlooked otherwise, even if they were just as qualified as their male counterparts?

      • Maggie says:

        I see your point and I hope that’s the case as I would like to see more women in politics. However I would hope he chose the best qualified for the position regardless of race or gender.

      • cr says:

        Enlighten me as to why that’s not the case, please.
        As to the basketball question, yes a lot of N American sports have a majority non-white player population. But until recently did not have much representation in the coaching ranks, ownership or management. So focusing solely on the players is to miss a larger picture.

    • Natalie says:

      “Recently our Canadian prime minister appointed equal numbers of women and men to our cabinet. I find this disturbing as I would rather have the person most qualified and suited for the position no matter their gender.”

      Do you think he appointed too many men?

      • Maggie says:

        That s not the point whether it’s too many men or women. It’s who is most qualified for the position. A friend of mine who is a white female teacher taught Native Studies to First Nations students. They excelled in that class. However some First Nations people wanted a First Nations teacher which I can fully understand. My friend was replaced with a First Nations teacher. The students marks went down significantly to almost failing the class because the person now teaching them did not know how to teach despite being First Nation. Sometimes it’s not about race or gender it’s about who is the most qualified for the position.

      • Natalie says:

        But perhaps they picked the wrong First Nations teacher rather than picking a First Nations teacher was wrong. I’d be interested in the politics around picking that particular person.

        But that doesn’t indicate that job listings for government positions aren’t besieged with more than enough qualified candidates of both genders. I look at male dominated boards and panels and wonder how many qualified women have been shut out. The status quo isn’t a meritocracy.

      • MinnFinn says:

        Maggie, A competent teacher is important but it’s not the only thing that impacts student grades.

        Were all other factors unchanged for the new teacher? It’s highly unlikely. It is the only objective and fair way to compare the quality of your friend’s teaching skills to her replacement. For example, one factor that did change was that the new teacher had a different set of students than your friend. Maybe the new teacher happened to get a lot of kids who were academically delayed. He/she may have had to do a lot of remedial teaching before they could actually study First Nations. That could cause lower test scores for the new teacher’s class. Did the new teacher use different test questions than your friend? Maybe your friend’s test questions were easier questions. Were the test questions the same but your friend was an easy grader?

        Point being there are lots of factors that impact test scores that need to be examined before you can conclude that your friend was a more qualified teacher than her replacement.

        I hope this is helpful.

    • Lilacflowers says:

      @Maggie, did you also notice the lack of short people playing on those basketball teams?

      You don’t think airport security people show you enough respect because you’re white? But your description of them is not very respectful

      • Maggie says:

        Sorry if you take offence to my description but that’s who they were. Tell me how should I have described them so as not to be disrespectful to anyone.

      • lilacflowers says:

        How do you know they were immigrants? You don’t. And quite possibly, you get rude reactions because you are rude to them. Which could really be the case because you seem to be indicating you have this problem with all airport security people.

    • mp says:

      Maggie, the kind of things that happened to you in the airport happen to all of us. The difference is that a person who sees people as people and not their skin color will simply think, “huh, that person or persons sure can be rude.” Whereas someone with preconceived notions about people because of their skin color might jump to the conclusion that “all immigrants of color treat me badly.” If you are treated poorly by two different white people while driving, do you quickly conclude that all white people are bad drivers? No, of course not. Because you are white and likely know a lot of white people who drive well and have never cut you off.

      But have that experience with two minorities of a similar skin color, and you might quickly jump to the conclusion that minorities are bad drivers, because you have limited exposure to them and your only experience was bad. See how racism works?

      That’s why the discussion with the Cohen brothers is important – because an all or mostly white cast doesn’t force people to confront their biases (gender or race related) like why it’s ok for males often of dubious merit except cronyism to run government but you think that women can’t possibly be qualified….and that immigrants in airports are boorish people.

      • Maggie says:

        mp, thank you for your reply and I do agree with your comment. I was only using examples to say that white people are discriminated against as well. I think this is a great discussion and hope there is some resolution. I don’t consider myself a racist but I think there may be some racism in us all. I have good friends that come in different shades of brown and white. Who they are as a person matters to me, not their skin color or where they come.

      • cr says:

        @Maggie, you seem to be making the presumption that it’s racism involved toward you, and not just rudeness. This is where pointing out that’s how you’re perceiving it comes into play: You’re seeing things as racism or favoring unqualified female candidates, but then don’t seem to understand in reading your descriptions it appears that your first reaction is that something happens to you, or that you don’t agree with, and you jump to the race/gender conclusion. You may not consider yourself a racist, but in reading your comments it appears to me that your view on gender/race and how it plays in hiring/culture/life is much more narrow than you think it is. You’re still denying privilege, while claiming you want only the best qualified for jobs, regardless of race or gender, but not realizing that’s not how it works.

      • MinnFinn says:

        mp – You have provided an excellent working definition of unrecognized bias/prejudice/racism/ageism/sexism etc. You probably know the academic term for it is “implicit association”.

        I appears that many/most of the white film industry celebs commenting on #oscarsowhite do not understand that they have implicit associations about POC that are so deeply embedded they are unable to recognize them.

        maggie – Kudos to you for having the courage to explore this.

        Implicit associations are not limited to POC. Absolutely everyone has 2 types of them about a variety of things. We have some IAs that we are unwilling to discuss and some that we are unable to recognize.

        More about the 2 types of implicit bias here

        Test yourself on implicit associations here

      • Maggie says:

        cr, I’m not denying there is white privilege. But there’s also racism against white people too. I know the difference between someone being rude towards me or racist just like you do if you are brown or black or Asian. Are you saying white people dont experience racism? If you don’t think they do you live a very sheltered life or are in denial. I’m also going to stand by what I say when it comes to qualifications for a job. I want to go to a professional accountant because they are qualified to do my taxes not because they are of a certain gender or skin color.

      • MinnFinn says:

        Maggie 6:03 I think the airport security being rude could be white racism OR it was an off day for them OR that particular cohort of employees is rude to everyone OR a combination of all of the above and likely more factors we have not considered.

      • Maggie says:

        MinnFinn I went back to my original comment re the airport security and I can see it was poorly written therefore I am to blame for being misunderstood. I can assure you it was racism.

  48. Siearra says:

    Thank you to all the white actresses, actors and filmmakers exposing their real thoughts.

    • Maggie says:

      If they don’t expose their thoughts for fear of hurting a persons feelings or offending then there’s no discussion which will hopefully brings understanding and change.

  49. HoustonGrl says:

    Horrifying interview, thanks for sharing and continuing to shed light on the extent of the problem.

  50. TheBlueRose says:

    Wholeheartedly agree with their viewpoint. Storylines have characters required to be played by actors. The specific characteristics of those characters will dictate which actors are best suited to accurately convey the narrative. If a director/producer doesn’t feel a particular skin tone, or human height, or physical traits of an actor would achieve this, why should they betray that choice? Ridiculous.

    • Awrin says:

      I agree with you. Certain roles are meant for whites to play. That doesn’t mean directors are racist. You can’t change that. Can you imagine LOTR, Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes being remade with a black cast? It would not be a good choice or role for blacks.
      You also can’t have a black play the role of Henry VII either.
      Even Spidey, I know ppl want a black Spidey but that is not gonna happen. Peter Parker is a white.

      • me says:

        We just want to see diversity…of ALL kinds. Why can’t a poc play a FICTIONAL character? Why can’t Spider Man be something other than White? Ok, well yeah Henry VII was White ! We aren’t asking people to re-write REAL LIFE history. We want to see poc in roles where their ethnicity is not an issue or important to the story line. Why is this so hard to understand?

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        But there already is a black Spiderman.

        I must say when it comes to your comment as frustrated as I can be by people like the Coen brothers, I am all the more grateful for those who step outside and expand.

        Creativity was supposed to be an outlet for expanding the universe and making it larger than life. Your vision of the world is so small. An all white utopia with no color or differences.

        A non-existent creature like an elf has to be white because what? But it’s fine because despite all the complaints time moves us all. If it takes another 50 years every single story you mentioned will be remade to feature POC (2 of them already have). Guess the whites will just have to deal with that when it happens.

      • cr says:

        There’s a black Spider Man in the comics now:

      • Smara says:

        re: Harry Potter with a black cast (gasp!)

        You do know there will be a stage production of ‘Harry Potter and the cursed child’, with a *black* Hermione, right?

        JK Rowling herself said that a) she was fine with a black Hermione. and b) in the books Hermione was never described as white. She was in fact described as having bushy hair.

        Black people play Shakespearean roles all the time. Adrian Lester is playing Hamlet soon.

        Peter Parker is white because he was written white. Words on a page. That can be changed. I’m not saying it *should* be, only let’s acknowledge its a possiblity and not pretend its a writ from the Lord above. Please. Jesus, Buddha, Allah and Gaia have more important things to do than to slave away for DC comics 😉

        Diversity: its already happening.

      • kai says:

        I can easily imagine all of these characters as black and think that’s actually a great idea. I’d also like a female Doctor while we’re at it, thanks.

      • lilacflowers says:

        @Awrin, given that LOTR was totally imaginary any way, each and every character could have been played by a person of color. Or do you really believe in Ents, Hobbits, Orcs, Elves, and wizards?

      • Otaku fairy says:

        Your racist little argument is so ignorant that for a second I thought it was just a sarcastic parody of what bigots say in discussions like this, but apparently you’re both serious.
        Why on earth would a black, Asian, latino, or Indian actor/actress not be as qualified to play COMPLETELY MADE UP characters like Harry Potter or Peter Parker/Spider Man as a white person could? Fictional characters can be played by a good actor of any race without the story being messed up. It’s only a problem to people who just can’t tolerate seeing their fictional faves played as a non-white person or to people who don’t think a person of color can act as decently or as good as the default white person.

  51. Aaron Smith says:

    Kudos to the Coen Brothers.

  52. Liesl says:

    Oh boy, this one was a doozy! I actually have some sympathy, as a writer, for his distilled philosophy, but his word choices and smugness really reek of indifference. He clearly hasn’t made the time to get himself better informed. He thinks accepting diversity the same as supporting and featuring diversity.

    That said, I personally want to write diverse stories, but I feel poorly qualified to do it. I try to feature diverse supporting characters, but my main characters are inevitably white, because that’s the experience I know inside and out. Writing main characters of color is a huge responsibility, and I’m intimidated to even try. These discussions are so helpful, but they just make me feel more insecure and unworthy.

    • me says:

      But why do you feel intimidated? You simply have to swap out “white” for any other ethnicity. You don’t have to research the Chinese, Arab, Indian culture. We want to see poc represented in roles that have NOTHING to do with their ethnicity. Why is that so hard?

      • Liesl says:

        I get what you’re saying. I want to feel confident I could do that, but my writing voice sounds white. I can try to be neutral, but I fear readers would complain I had whitewashed the characters if I fail to address their race. But if I address their race, I feel obligated to get it perfect. And can I, as a white woman, get it perfect?

        I have lots of friends from diverse backgrounds who are middle-aged Americans like me, but their race and backgrounds aren’t invisible. Heritage has a huge influence, and I would feel a higher obligation to get it right. Inauthentic portrayals get just as much heat as the lack of them.

      • me says:

        You bring up some good points and it seems to be a catch 22 for you. I understand where you are coming from but our ethnicity is not the only thing that defines us. We are more than that. I’d hate for Chinese writers to feel they can only write for Chinese characters, and so on and so forth. I mean, we are all human beings with very similar emotions. We are all living on this earth, feel similar things on a daily basis. Plus do all White people have the exact same experiences in life that it’s easier to make all characters White? They vary as well.

      • me says:

        I am also wondering how you’re able to write about male characters since you’re female? Can’t we use the same logic here then? Or how about an elderly woman? You are neither of those things. Are your characters all white middle-aged women? Either way, I do appreciate your honesty.

      • Liesl says:

        Thanks for your thoughts and being gentle. Again, you’re right — it should be fairly simple. I have written novels with white male characters as you point out. It took extra work, but I felt up to task. But the standard of scrutiny is so much higher for minority portrayals. If people know I’m white, they’ll put a microscope to every word. I know, because I do it naturally. (“Uh-oh, is this Asian character a trope?” “Sure, make the black girl the sassy one.”)

        I’ve worked with agents and publishers who are clamoring for diverse books, but when clarified, what they really want is diverse books BY diverse authors. That’s awesome, but, again, it discourages authors from writing outside their box. Ideally all stories would be written by all people. I’m just scared I’ll get it wrong.

      • me says:

        I really do appreciate your honesty. It’s nice to see a different perspective on things, especially from someone with first hand experience. I am glad agents want to work with more diverse authors. This at least gives some writers hope that they can get their books published too. Best of luck to you.

    • Homework says:

      If I am writing a character who is primarily, say, a stay at home mom, a ballet dancer, or a rocket scientist with an insecurity complex, I start from there. Then I tell myself that the rocket scientist with an insecurity complex can be of any race. And if race is not a major issue in the plot, I don’t worry too much about, it, and if it is, I may consult friends or a writing group on the tone of the character to try and get it right.

      That is just scratching the surface, of course, but it’s a start. I may be white, but I live in a very diverse area and connect with all kinds of people from different backgrounds and professions. There are people of color living in all kinds of places and from all social classes.Focus on the inside first,the rest comes after.

      Again, I’m oversimplifying but you can get the gist of it. Anyone who criticizes you from there can end up an advocate for art by committee, and we all know how lame that is.

      Plus, there are millions of experiences about being black in this country, and a huge divide between dark skinned people fresh off the boat and those who have lived here longer. No one has the power to privilege one perspective over the others, all are valid.

      I guess it does open you up to some vulnerability and criticism, but such is life. I have never lived in a place populated exclusively by whites and WASPs (or where people didn’t speak multiple languages) so creating a world like that doesn’t feel authentic to me anyways.

  53. loladoesthehula says:

    Right? My list of faves is getting shorter & shorter :-(. On the plus side, movie tickets are expensive af in my country, so my bank account thanks you, tactless, oblivious white people!

    Also I’m sorry but if you’re so unimaginative that you can’t conceive a world outside of your little bubble you’re not much of writer. I need to the send them a copy of Ourika by Claire de Duras. If an overprivileged aristocratic white lady managed to write a complex, intelligent woc in freaking 1823, so can you!!

  54. MinnFinn says:

    Are there any solutions being discussed? If not, then this is just a new type of pre-meditated negative press campaign to get free publicity for the Oscars.

    Diversity training is part of the solution. I hope The Academy has hired qualified diversity consultants to work on this.

  55. DDBee says:

    Can someone tell me why white people can be the girl next door, the heart throb, womanizer, professional working a high powered job, murderer, dancer, movie star, clutz and everything under the sun but everyone else is necessarily a black person struggling with some aspect of their blackness, a latino struggling with their families immigration background, a nerdy non-social Asian, a Native American on a reservation etc???!

    No wonder they can’t picture anyone other than white telling the stories they write. This is the problem with institutionslized racism! Being whit e is the default color and people automatically look for other defining character traits. If you are a minority however, first thing ppl think is “oh not white, black, black issues, too serious,other.”

    Their story telling is limited because their world and world view is limited. That’s also why that question bothered them so much. Sucks to admit you are racist or even bias.

    • Miss Jupitero says:

      I just had a conversation with someone about historical dramas and about how black actors are only included d if the story is about slavery. Otherwise they are completely absent– you would think that there were no black people at all in the 19th century, that they had no history at all other than the slavery experience. Never walked down the street or went to the beach or threw parties. Never shopped, never bought fish. Etc.

      Then I realized that this is how white people see the world. Why? Well its what they see in movies for starters…… storytelling shapes how people see the world. Never seeing yourself in the story or always seeing only yourself…. This is what has to change.

  56. Mirawing says:

    Their first film “Blood Simple” had a prominent black character in it. I don’t remember the actor’s name, but he was very good.

    That said, I’m not happy hearing their thoughts on diversity or lack of it. The older I get, I find the less I know about my favorite directors the better.

  57. Jade says:

    Whatever they’re trying to justify or explain with this interview, even if they may not be racists, they do sound offensive to me at least. The impression that they’re giving here is that diversity is an insult to their writing and a quota burden to bear, when that is not what #oscarssowhite is trying to highlight. And trying to claim that the Oscars is not important is so insulting. The core of Oscars and its brand is celebrating excellence in film and acting, period. To exclude a diverse range of people from this pursuit of excellence through a systemic production of white stories or experiences and worse, by casting white folks as non-white characters is just terrible for the industry.

    • Jade says:

      Edit: To exclude from or make it thrice as hard for a diverse range of people to be involved in this pursuit of excellence through a systemic production of white stories or experiences and worse, by casting white folks as non-white characters is just terrible for the industry.

  58. senna says:

    I know I’m late to this party – but after reading the Cohen’s comments, I thought of one of my favourite classics filmed at the tail end of the Hollywood golden age (1961): Paris Blues. In it, two black characters have extended discussions about the civil rights movement in America and question whether one has an obligation as a black American to play a role in this struggle. Rather than feeling tacked-on, this plot feels like it’s extremely relevant to the social issues of its day, and gives depth to the world the characters inhabit.

  59. Steve says:

    I think it’s presumptuous to assign an agenda to these artists. The Coen brothers are gifted writers and film makers. Allow them to do what they do. I have enjoyed immensely their films. In the internet age, where everything is open to criticism, it would be expected that many negative responses will be aired. They do what they do and what they know and they are fantastic at it. Why can’t we leave them alone? I would hope that there will come an African-American writer that can weave fantastic tales such as the Coen Brothers, with amazing stories that feature people of color in the lead roles. We cannot force an agenda on an artist, it is simply impossible, because if you do that, you turn an artist into a manufacturer of entertainment.

  60. lisa2 says:

    Many interesting comments. The bottom line for me is that this is not about changing the race of a someone in a film. It is not about changing the race of a Real life person for someone of color. It is just about making our movies reflect the world around us. Not a Quota. When I go out with my friends and I look around the table; I see a multiracial group. I see my friends. If I were going to cast a movie about a woman and her friends; then that is how that cast would look. It would reflect my life. I just think that it is not hard to make a movie with talented people that don’t always look the same. I completely understand that for some people they cast movies by what they live. And as stated above if your cast is only white then it is a reflection of a very limited world.

    You don’t need to change the race of say Martin Luther King or Queen Elizabeth.. that to me is not what this is about. But if you are casting a show about a hospital and none of the people are POC then that is silly and not reflective of the world we actually live in.

  61. Naddie says:

    It takes too much effort for white people to worry about diversity. Why should they bother? They’re being represented everywhere, so it’s fine to cast a black actor only when the movie is about etnicity struggling or to fill a suporting role created to pretend they’re being “inclusive”.

    • Amelie says:

      Naddie: I am going to disagree with you. Firstly, many of us grew us in homogeneous settings. Many of the cities on the East Coast and in the Midwest had enormous migrations of europeans and the various ethnic groups settled in areas where they lived together. I was born and raised in such a setting. Having lived abroad for several years, I can understand the need to have ‘a bit of home’ when you are in a new country. The same holds true for African Americans; they lived and continue to live in homogeneous communities. Although many believe that diversity sensitivity can be taught, many of us grew up with a “lens” that saw the world thru the tribe/ethnic community that we were raised in.

      Things have changed in the world and I admit that there are to this day groups who have experienced discrimination. I include here African Americans, American Indians etc. The experts think that Diversity Training is the key to widening our “lens”, but I disagree. I think in order to widen our lens, that we have to have come to know a person of another race intimately. I was fortunate to date a guy who was mixed race (neither caucasian) and I learned a lot from him. I doubt that Diversity Training would have changed me in any way close to knowing this man. And I know that I didn’t have an attitude of “why bother.” I have worked with multiple ethnic groups over the years and live in one of the most diverse communities in the country. Had I not been lucky enough to have had this experience with my boyfriend, I would most probably have a narrower lens. And because I live diversity, I feel comfortable in saying that I think that the need to broaden one’s lens applies to POC too. We all need to see each other ‘under our skin’.

  62. Patty says:

    This reminds of the recent George Clooney post. Of course Edward Murrow can’t be played a Black guy or Latino or Asian. You see EM was a real person who happened to be white. On that same note, of course Joseph Fiennes cannot play Michael Jackson because MJ was a real person who happened to be black………but wait Joseph Fiennes was just cast to play Michael Jackson and a lot of people defended the choice:

    “Race doesn’t matter, if the actor is talented”
    “But Michael Jackson didn’t look black”
    “But it would be impossible to find a black actor with Michael’s skin tone”

    See the difference? When casting choices are whitewashed, i.e. white people being cast to play real life people who were not white, everything is explained away and excuses are trotted out galore. But the thought of a non white actor playing white historical figures or hell even getting an equal shot at what should be or could be race neutral roles is beyond the pale (ha) for some people.

    • tracking says:

      I completely agree.

    • Miss Jupitero says:

      I’d also like to pitch this: Why not have a black actor play a historic white figure? Why is that a problem? It’s theatre! It’s art!

      Adrian Lester is about to play Hamlet, and he is hardly passing as an ethnic Dane. Does anyone really care about that? And look at the casting for Hamilton– the biggest blockbuster on Broadway! It works!

      The historic “authenticity” excuse just shows laziness and a profound lack of imagination. It is also dishonest, for the reasons you cite.